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Cardiff City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship

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Can Sunderland find their man in the middle this week?

A lot of focus has been on this summer’s search for more firepower, but as Paddy Hollis writes, another strong midfielder is also a priority ahead of deadline day

Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images

We’ve entered the final week of the summer transfer window and clubs up and down the land are frantically getting their final pieces of business in order.

Sunderland have had a decent window, but there’s no denying that we have some holes to fill.

The quest for strikers has always been in our peripheral vision, with the search heading into the final few days. A deal for Ukrainian forward Nazariy Rusyn seems to be heading towards a positive conclusion, but the first few games of the season have shown that we’re in need of an extra body in another key position.

Central midfield is an area of the pitch where football games can be won and lost.

Get a foothold in the middle of the park and a team can dictate a match at whatever tempo they choose. We’ve currently got two strong starting options in the shape of Dan Neil and Pierre Ekwah, but beyond that, we’re light.

There are a large number of players who can slot in as a number ten or into an attacking midfield position, but I wouldn’t want any of them sitting in the traditional central midfield role.

Coventry City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Stephen White - CameraSport via Getty Images

During the 0-0 draw against Coventry, Tony Mowbray brought on Niall Huggins to replace Ekwah.

We had nobody amongst the substitutes who was a ‘natural’ central midfielder, meaning that when one of our starting pair was knackered, we had to crowbar a full back into an unfamiliar role.

We do have other central midfielders at the club, but both Corry Evans and Jay Matete are currently injured, so the need to bulk up our options in the middle of the park is arguably as important as adding firepower.

In terms of strikers and general forwards, we’re stocked even before bringing in any new faces, and as much as Neil and Ekwah are top players, they aren’t going to be able to play the majority of forty six league games.

Central midfielders sometimes go under the radar in a team.

They don’t have the flair and delicate nature of attacking players, and they’re almost expected to muck in on the defensive side without any real recognition in many instances.

Ekwah and Neil have a touch of both about them, and another similar player or someone in the Evans mould, who’ll patrol the area between the midfield and the back four, is exactly what we need.

Rotating the three would allow us to keep them all relatively fresh and ready for what’s going to be another mammoth campaign.

Coventry City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Stephen White - CameraSport via Getty Images

It feels as though we’re close to being the ‘finished article’ in terms of transfers.

If we can add a striker, a forward/right winger and a central midfielder, we can really get our teeth into this division.

The week ahead is going to be a crucial one, and the business we either do or don’t do will go some way towards the model being either praised or criticised by the time we kick off against Southampton.


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